The City Council passed an ordinance to increase the speed on a section of the Belt Highway between Frederick Boulevard and Faraon Street.
The change consistently makes the highway 40 mph, which sees around 20,000 to 25,000 drivers per day, according to the St. Joseph Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO).
“So every place on the Belt is 40,” Director of St. Joseph Public Works Andy Clements said. “(Missouri Department of Transportation) just didn’t see many accidents that were occurring because of excessive speed in this area, so it really didn’t warrant artificially lowering it from 40 to 35.”
The Belt Highway sees more wrecks than other parts of the city, because of the heavy traffic. Downtown ranges from 1,500 to 8,000 drivers per day.
MoDOT used data compiled by the Missouri State Highway Patrol, which included wrecks on the Belt before recommending the change in speed to City Council. That data also showed the cause of a majority of the wrecks.
“Left-turn conflicts,” said Clements. “People trying to turn left in and out of businesses, or people trying to turn left from the center turn lane on the Belt Highway into businesses. So it’s left-turns that are the accidents on the Belt Highway.”
The ordinance also helps police with enforcing the speed limit, since the section between Frederick Boulevard and Faraon Street is only a half mile.
“There’s always those drivers that don’t care really much about the natural flow of traffic, and they look strictly at that 35 and drive that, so raising that by 5 miles per hour will help traffic move and flow a little bit better,” Clements said.